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All reviews - Movies (8)

Ex-Machine Copy-Cat.

Posted : 1 year, 5 months ago on 25 December 2016 03:28 (A review of Morgan (2016))

This movie didn't look like it had too much potential, but it's a flick you'd watch should a case of boredom fall onto your desk if you don't have any other good movies to watch. This is Luke Scott's (son of Ridley Scott) first feature and while it does have a couple of flaws, there are still some good things about the movie that I can't complain about.

Summary: A risk management consultant is hired to investigate an incident involving an artificially intelligent girl who is being experimented on and wants to leave the facility. However, the consultant thinks that Morgan is a potential threat to society based on her behavior and hostile reactions to the people who have created her and believes she must be terminated. 

The Good: 

Cinematography wasn't bad - there were a couple of shots here and there that were similar to Ex Machina with the nature shots and ambiance in certain areas of the film.

Some of the performances in the movie were really good - Anya Taylor-Joy's second movie (her first being The Witch which was released earlier this year) and captures the AI creation / teenager role well. Rose Leslie, Michelle Yeoh and Toby Jones were also good, with Leslie breaking out of that Ygritte character from Game of Thrones as the sympathetic behaviorist and a decent American accent. 

The Mixed:

I really don't know what to say about Kate Mara's acting here. She does okay with her role, but doesn't have much range with some of the other movies I've seen her in (Transendence, The Martian).

The writing is all right, but perhaps what could have made the movie better was if the writing was more focused on Morgan instead of Lee in order to avoid the predictability of the end of [spoiler]Lee being the first and successful creation[/spoiler] and actually develop the other characters, mainly Morgan and the rest of the team while keeping Lee a mystery and making her character shady to the team.

Paul Giamatti's acting was over-the-top [spoiler]in the psych-evaluation scene[/spoiler] and forced. Maybe if he was more calmer and actually not showing that he was building up to be some friendly psychologist to a pissed off man in order to evoke emotions out of Morgan the scene would've played out better.

The marketing for this movie was poor - were the directors and crew aiming for a sci-fi horror or sci-fi thriller? Check out the trailers and you'll see what I mean.

The Bad:

Is it me, or did anybody notice how bad Michael Yare's (the black guy who plays Ted) acting was? No need to comment much on this, but there wasn't a single ounce of emotion on the man when he's face to face with Morgan.

The action sequences are choppy - I HATE scenes in action movies that have so many cuts! I just hope that if Luke Scott makes another action movie that he doesn't follow the footsteps of Paul Greengrass or Olivier Megaton.

I didn't really care for the characters much in this movie. As I said in the mixed section of this movie, if the writing had been a little better then you could really feel for some of the characters. 

TL;DR: Morgan had a promising story despite it being a copy of Ex Machina and Species, but with a great performance from Anya Taylor-Joy as the titular character and some decent cinematography is all let down by some mixed performances, poor marketing and writing without any other originality. 

Verdict: This movie would be something to watch if you're bored or just looking for a popcorn flick and tired of all the superhero action movies out in theaters today. 5/10

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Guilty Pleasure, except for the visuals.

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 8 November 2015 02:42 (A review of Hollow Man (2000))

Saw this movie a few years ago after hearing many people talk about how the visual effects were amazing, put aside the horror sub-genre. I enjoyed the movie so much that I considered adding it to my favorite sci-fi horror movie collection. But after a second viewing, well...thoughts have changed.

The movie revolves around Sebastian Caine, a scientist who experiments on animals by making them invisible with serums. The projects are great, which results in Caine himself asking the Board of Committee and the Government to create tests for invisible humans. He coaxes companions Linda McKay and her boyfriend Matthew Kensington, who are very skeptical about the transition. Everything goes well until Sebastian begins to descend into madness, claiming his transparency is a "gift" and often stalks his workers to see what happens next.

The movie isn't so bad, but the story borrows elements from one of H.G. Wells's story "The Invisible Man", with science fiction mixed into the plot. It is good to see a movie about a mad scientist involved in committing to a project that he thinks will change the world, only to use it for evil deeds later on. 

The visual effects have caught my attention and have aged phenomenally in the past 15 years. Paul Verohoeven and the VFX team behind Hollow Man really did a great job taking a step further into the VFX with making Sebastian and some of the animals invisible. Surprisingly, it even got nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 2001, which is something really big for horror movies like this. 

But, there were some unnecessary footage that should have been taken out of the movie. Hence, the rape scene. I don't know if it was crucial to add some sort of sexually frustrated characteristic to Sebastian that either serves as a catalyst to the protagonist-turned-antagonist character or did the writers even considered adding more of an uncomfortable atmosphere?

Performances are great - Kevin Bacon does what is given with the mad scientist character, especially his transition from being so cocky and intelligent to a man with hostility and intimidation as a killer. Elisabeth Shue is bland in some parts, but still does fine as well. Josh Brolin does steal some scenes and is great in the supporting role as a scientist.

The writing and dialogue are fine, but could have been better if Sebastian wasn't too focused as a man who desperately wants to get back with Linda through unnecessary sexual behavior.

Paul Verohoeven does great with this movie, and is passionate with the other movies he has made (Starship Troopers, Robocop, etc.) and makes the story as interesting as possible. The cinematography is all right, with horror shots like seeing Sebastian's actions through his perspective and not giving away the location of the villain. 

I would recommend this for people who enjoy classic sci-fi movies or people who are just in for the visual effects, discounting any one-dimensional acting or story. 

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Plenty of respect for Indie movies now.

Posted : 2 years, 7 months ago on 7 November 2015 12:37 (A review of The Machinist)

I'd never been really blown away by a psychological thriller that has a surprising twist than a movie like this.

The story behind The Machinist is Trevor Reznik, a man who hasn't slept in a year and is psychologically insane, as a result of his insomnia. Trevor begins seeing a man who appears in his visions everywhere he goes, and is also driven even further to madness when Trevor discovers strange messages at his house. Now, Trent will have to figure out what the man wants and what the post-it notes mean while struggling to regain his sanity.

My first impression of this movie was that it would just be a horror movie based on what I've seen in the trailer from its unsettling and dark nature. But, after watching the trailer for a second time and viewing the movie, I felt really mixed about how the story ended and the big twist that resulted in what really happened. It took me some time to figure out what the hell happened with Trevor's character and the series of events that were seen through his perception, and when I watched the movie again, I really understood what the movie was aiming for.

Christian Bale is still a good actor, but this is one of his movies where he really shines outside of his Batman persona. Bale is also willing to go method for his roles (He lost so much weight in the movie that the crew behind this movie were concerned for his health) and really disturb audiences with his intensity. Christian Bale should still look into comedy as well, though. (Aside from American Hustle) The rest of the supporting cast I really didn't care about except for Jennifer Jason Leigh (Who really wasn't half bad in the movie, and portrayed a likable character) and John Sharian (His sinister attitude and mannerisms were really intimidating). 

The directing and cinematography are excellent. I give plenty of credit to Brad Anderson for really putting 110% effort into carefully planning out the story and having the supporting cast become very unsettled by Christian Bale's character. Anderson even uses horror transition shots (Blood in the refrigerator, unexpected scares, focus on the actors's expressions and flashbacks throughout the movie). As for the cinematography, the track-in shots, panning movements, perspectives and angles of what Trevor sees through his eyes and how slowly he delves into insanity. 

The story is also told very carefully, without giving much away. The major twist of Trevor suffering from grief over a hit-and-run accident that resulted in his insomnia may sound cliched, but still one of the best haunting twists ever placed in a movie. The twist is subtle, but if you watch the movie two or three times, you'll eventually understand what the story really is about. The process of Trevor falling into madness throughout the movie expresses his vulnerability and the struggles of bringing back his sanity is enough to convince me that a thriller or movie similar to The Machinist should give filmmakers and writers an idea of how a twist is done well. 

If you haven't checked The Machinist out, I strongly recommend that you do so - if you can handle the film's disturbing psychological nature. 

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Really worth watching. Forget those who hated it..

Posted : 2 years, 9 months ago on 22 September 2015 11:58 (A review of Self/less (2015))

This movie is actually worth watching! I think it's the fact that people complain that the trailer gives away the whole movie is the issue, but the fact that they don't really know what's actually happening in the story.

The plot is excellent - Damien, wealthy and elder man (Ben Kingsley) is dying from cancer, so he is desperate to stay young, by asking scientist Albright (Matthew Goode) who has the "secrets to immortality", meaning that he can transfer his consciousness into another body. Damien agrees to go along with the operation after some hesitation, and the procedure succeeds. Soon, he awakens in a new body (Ryan Reynolds) and decides to have some fun while living the new life. However, Damien begins to receive memories from the new body, realizing that the real man inside the body had lived before Damien was transferred over. Tracing the steps to another location, Damien finds out that there is more to the new body - and with the man's wife Maddie (Natalie Martinez) and her daughter in danger from the men responsible for the body switch, Damien will have to protect them and overthrow Albright while uncovering more details of the man's past and the truths behind the secret company.

Acting is sub-par, even though Ben Kingsley [spoiler] has small screen time (around 20 minutes or so), [/spoiler] Ryan Reynolds steals the show here and is a versatile actor who can be in any movies, good or bad, and can make it worth watching. Matthew Goode also does excellent with what he is given with here, as the main antagonist. Didn't really care for Natalie Martinez who was pretty much eye candy for the whole movie in my opinion, while Derek Luke was okay as the secondary villain. 

Directing - Tarsem Singh has had bad luck lately - Immortals was all right, but I've never seen any of his other movies (The Cell, The Fall), and he actually does good directing the movie - no shaky cameras (for intense action sequences, a little is all right) and really puts effort into great story telling and having the actors give 100% effort into giving their best performances. 

This movie takes elements from Source Code, Seconds (haven't seen yet), and Face/Off, but still makes the movie more likable to watch.

Overall, great story and performances, and I'm looking forward to see Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool!

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Excelled better than it's prodecessor.

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 14 August 2015 03:58 (A review of V/H/S/2 (2013))

This sequel had a few creative ideas, but the sub-plot with the detectives looking for the kid while one of them plays the VHS tapes kind of caught me off-guard near the end.

For the segments, well...

Phase 1 - Clinical Trials - Really good novel idea! A man looking at ghosts through a camera implanted on his new eye along with some pretty decent jump-scares. Even though it was a little nasty, I guess the short worked for this anthology.

A Ride In The Park - Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale's short is the highlight of this movie. What's not to like when you see footage being recorded from the protagonist who turns into a zombie about 2 minutes into the segment as he strolls with the other zombies?

Safe Haven - Gareth Evans, after doing his action thriller movie "The Raid", brings a lot of tension and scares to this segment. What made it really frightening in my opinion was the build up of suspense when the Indonesian cult begins to go insane and the amount of gore during the most terrifying scenes, such as the Demon-Child emerging from the female character and insanity of the characters that makes this short so cringe-worthy and hard to watch for the faint-hearted.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction - The aliens looked really, really silly in this last segment. Sure, it had potential to be really compelling in a way of what a bizarre alien encounter would be like from one group's perspective. I can give this a pass for the amount of efforts the writers put in to making this last segment as scary as possible, and the characters weren't that annoying as well. But the dog...c'mon, really?

Overall, this sequel does a lot better with the amount of creativity and scares the people in this movie put in, but still had a few subtle flaws that they could have taken care of.

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Blows Creepypasta right out of the water...

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 12 August 2015 03:38 (A review of V/H/S (2012))

First expectations were to avoid this as this movie provided really intense, gritty, and disturbing elements to the movie. But after seeing this, the directors and writers did really well with their own segments and the way the terror was executed. Although I enjoyed the last segment the most, I found Amateur Night to be a little more appalling while the segments like "Tuesday the 17th" and "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" weren't that creepy but still violent and a bit conspicuous. I was so and so with Second Honeymoon as it had a pretty good twist to the story, but felt it was a bit predictable. For a found footage movie that's as gruesome and terrifying, V/H/S blows Creepypasta right out of the water for it's own touch in horror and really decent story telling.

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Could've done a lot better...(SPOILER ALERT)

Posted : 2 years, 10 months ago on 29 July 2015 12:38 (A review of Unfriended)

Just watched this movie and I'd have to say - I'm pretty mixed about this movie. One moment, I had nothing but bad things to say and then another I just feel that the people working on this movie did pretty good with what they were given.

Also, the theme is cyber bullying and the effects it can have on not only the victims but also the tormentors responsible. It's a very serious issue today, and this film does a pretty good job representing the issue. (minus the supernatural antagonist added)

The premise of this movie seemed cliched to me, but later after watching the trailer back in 2014 (Was titled "Cybernatural" at the time) I had plenty of expectations for it.

The premise of this movie is Laura Barns, a teenager who was driven to suicide after a group of friends played a sadistic prank on her, and plenty of cyber-bullying is involved. One year later, the friends are confronted by a mysterious individual while video chatting, who is using Laura's account to get the attention of the teenagers. Thinking it is another sick prank, the hacker on Laura's account threatens to kill off anyone who leaves the video chat if they hang up. Whilst being terrorized by the ghost, there are some deadly secrets that the friends share that will break their friendships and reveal them as backstabbers.

It was a great idea that Nelson Greaves had developed, along with his other rewrites (look on the IMDB trivia section of the movie) and Timur Bekmambetov also had some creativity and serious thinking with developing this story. Sure, there was a moment where the movie felt like a knock-off of The Den (another movie with the same style as this movie, but actually more brutalizing) but the writer differentiated it around a little bit.

The story, while it had some flaws, such as Laura's backstory as a bully, with not too much detail about her past and what made her become a bully. and Laura and Blaire's history as childhood friends. I felt that they did okay with the subplots, but didn't reveal too much with these two stories.

The characters, while they were a bunch of arrogant and nasty assholes for what they did to Laura, I really felt sympathetic for Laura and one of the friends involved in the prank against Laura.

For instance, Mitch. Why? Because,near the end of the movie, Blaire screws Mitch over by "admitting" that he was the one who posted the video, but I completely remembered through the whole movie that it looked like he never did anything bad aside from having negative opinions of Laura, making out with her for a few seconds, and ratting out Adam for selling weed. What I'm saying here is that I interpret Mitch as being one of the innocent friends, since he didn't really post the video in my opinion.

The acting in this movie was between okay and good, with newcomers like Will Peltz and Moses Jacob Storm really giving out their emotions in the movie. Jacob Wysocki was really funny and gave comic relief at the right timing. Renee Olstead, Shelley Hennig, and Courtney Halverson were great as well, but I felt that Shelley's character was too whiny. Heather Sossaman is intimidating as Laura Barns, before and after she becomes a cyber ghost.

For the fantastic editing in the movie (glitches, visuals, etc.), please give the Editors an Oscar Nomination! Sure, it sounds exaggerated, but this is what a teen using a computer looks like - checking websites and going back and forth in checking their own personal applications and the way they chat. As for the Skype video chat, it was realistic, because if it was all based on keeping clear instead of having flaws, I'd question why they'd do it.

Leo Gabriadze does great in his directional debut, even when Shelly Hennig suggested that the whole movie be shot in one take without interruptions.

The suspense was okay, as some parts seemed predictable like hints of one of the characters about to be attacked.

Overall, the movie isn't so great, but it isn't so bad as well. It was actually entertaining for it's idea, the computer horror genre, and I would like to see what the people behind Unfriended will do with the sequel.

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Some "Thing" Has Found Us.

Posted : 2 years, 11 months ago on 10 July 2015 06:45 (A review of Cloverfield (2008))

Remember back in 2007 when Transformers came out, there was a preview for this movie that only showed a brief clip of a party going on and then came the attack and the Statue of Liberty's head being tossed across the street, and no name was given for the movie AT ALL? Now that's how you advertise for a found footage movie - you don't give anything away. All of us who watched this preview literally went crazy trying to figure out the premise of this movie and what JJ Abrams and the others were doing.

Plot: A big party is planned for Robert "Rob" Hawkins, who is leaving NYC to go to Japan as Vice-President until it is erupted with unusual but ground shaking roars as a creature attacks the city and is caught on tape as Rob and his friends try to escape Manhattan. Also, let's not forget the subplot where Rob also goes on a rescue mission to save his girlfriend who is trapped inside her home after the monster makes it's grand appearance.

Though it looks a little cliched with what they used in the story, the people behind this movie make it a little more interesting by adding the found footage style and leaving out any details about Clover's (the monster) origins.

Acting: I really didn't care so much for the acting, but I feel pretty mixed towards TJ Miller's character, Hud. Sure, he's the dude you turn to for comic relief in the worst case scenarios, but he kind of gets on my nerves sometimes. Michael Stahl-David should be in more movies like this, but I feel he's more comfortable with working on independent movies. Lizzy Caplan also did great as well, especially the scene where she is brought into quarantine. Really terrifying moment. So, I'd have to say the acting was so-so to good.

Cinematography: Looking at the movie a couple of times, it looked like a cinematic Hollywood movie more than found footage at first, but later became more fond of it when the camera keeps cutting away from the action, adding a more realistic look, as if you were watching through the perspective of a survivor.

VFX: I'm surprised nobody complained about the CGI in this movie. Excellent work with Clover, the parasites, and the destruction throughout this movie. Maybe up and coming directors who have an interest in making sci-fi movies like this or Transformers can learn from something like Cloverfield or The Matrix and so forth.

Directing: Matt Reeves actually did well in directing the movie. He really put a lot of hard work (JJ Abrams as well) into keeping Cloverfield a mystery and brought out genuine terror and real human emotion from the cast. Matt Reeves then went on to make Let Me In and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Excellent job, Matt!

Overall: This is one of the found footage movies I've actually enjoyed. I really wish that there was a sequel to this movie, showing it through the perspective of the military or how the monster was found. I also wish more found footage movies were marketed the way Cloverfield was, since it actually gives people plenty of thrills and curiosity for a long time rather than making it temporary and they get bored afterwards.


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